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Histotechnologist vs. Medical Technologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in medical technology can be both challenging and rewarding. Two common positions in this field are histotechnologist and medical technologist. Though both roles are important in the medical field, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a histotechnologist and a medical technologist, and we provide additional medical professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is a Histotechnologist?

Histotechnologists are laboratory professionals who prepare tissue samples for examination by pathologists. They work in hospitals, private laboratories or research facilities. Histotechnologists receive tissue samples from surgeons, biopsies or autopsies and process them to preserve them for further study. This processing includes embedding the tissue in paraffin, cutting it into thin slices and staining it with dyes. Histotechnologists also may use special techniques, such as immunohistochemistry, to make certain tissues more visible under a microscope. Once the tissue is prepared, histotechnologists give it to pathologists who examine it to look for evidence of disease.

What is a Medical Technologist?

Medical Technologists are healthcare professionals who work in clinical laboratories to perform tests on patient samples. They use sophisticated equipment to analyze blood, tissue and other body fluids to help diagnose and treat diseases. Medical Technologists work with other laboratory staff to ensure that test results are accurate and meet quality standards. They may also train new laboratory staff on proper procedures and techniques. Medical Technologists typically work in hospitals, clinics or private laboratories. Some may also work in research laboratories or pharmaceutical companies.

Histotechnologist vs. Medical Technologist

Here are the main differences between a histotechnologist and a medical technologist.

Job Duties

Medical technologists perform many of the same tasks as histotechnologists, but they focus on different parts of the medical testing process. For example, a medical technologist may conduct blood tests and analyze the samples an histotechnologist collects. In contrast, an histotechnologist prepares biopsy samples for analysis by a medical technologist.

Another difference between the two roles is that an histotechnologist has more responsibility for the laboratory equipment than a medical technologist. This includes making sure the equipment runs smoothly and troubleshooting when there are technical issues. A medical technologist typically only uses the lab equipment as instructed by the histotechnologist.

Job Requirements

Histotechnologists typically need to earn an Associate of Science in Histotechnology or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree, but it is not always required. Many histotechnologists also pursue certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). To become certified, histotechnologists must have at least a year of experience working in a laboratory and pass an exam.

Medical technologists usually need to earn a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). They might also need to be licensed in some states. After completing their education, medical technologists can pursue certification through organizations like the ASCP or the American Medical Technologists (AMT). To become certified, they must have at least a year of experience working in a laboratory and pass an exam.

Work Environment

Medical technologists and histotechnologists work in different environments. Medical technologists typically work in hospitals, medical offices or other healthcare facilities. They may also work for pharmaceutical companies to test drugs before they’re released to the public. Histotechnologists usually work in laboratories that analyze tissue samples from patients. These professionals may work in a variety of settings, including universities, research institutions, government agencies and private labs.


Both histotechnologists and medical technologists use skills like critical thinking, problem solving and attention to detail in their jobs. They also need to be able to follow safety protocols when handling dangerous chemicals and materials.

Histotechnologists typically work with smaller samples, so they need excellent manual dexterity and fine motor skills to perform their job duties. They also need to have a strong understanding of biology and chemistry concepts to properly prepare and analyze samples. Medical technologists usually work with larger samples, so they may not need the same level of manual dexterity as histotechnologists. However, they still need to have a strong understanding of biology and chemistry concepts to properly prepare and analyze samples. In addition, medical technologists often use automated equipment to perform their job duties, so they need to be comfortable using computers.


The average salary for a histotechnologist is $71,690 per year, while the average salary for a medical technologist is $75,796 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the company and the level of experience the professional has.


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